Presence | Recognition | Acceptance | Dedication | Playfulness | Gratitude
“So this is a basic tonglen logic: When you feel the discomfort, have the thought: ‘Other people feel this.’ And then if you want to take it a rather dramatic step further, you can say, ‘May we all be free of this’…And the most dramatic and probably most difficult step is to say: ‘Since I’m feeling this anyway, may I be feeling it so all others could be free of it.'” – Pema Chödrön on Tonglen meditation
We begin by standing in a relaxed position, with your hands on your stomach. Open and quiet, moving or shifting slightly if desired. While you listen, you may close your eyes if you choose.You will not let go by commanding yourself to let go, instantly, all at once. You let go by showing up, and practicing observation. To recognize what is, to recognize yourself completely and recognize the present moment completely, fully, is the path to letting go. In Tonglen meditation we use the breath to transmute suffering into inner peace, one step at a time.
We recognize as we fail at letting go and get to know what that failure and pain feels like, again and again and again. Like watching the waves crashing on the shore, we don’t try to change or fix or make things perfect. We simply pause, slow down, and see reality for what it is.
Begin with a warm-up breathing exercise (1-2 minutes)
Breathe in slowly; exhale slowly.
Feel the breath, experience the body breathing.
Slow down the breath, feel each moment of inhale expanding; feel each moment exhaling, relaxing.
Feel any pain, notice any thoughts, allow restlessness, allow yourself to be as you are. Breathe in, breathe out.
It is okay to feel pain, to feel frustration, confusion, joy, happiness, boredom; it is okay to feel restless, noisy; it is okay to be as you are. Breathe in; breathe out.
Basic Tonglen Breathing & Movement: (Ten Breaths)
Breathe in the hot heavy; breathe out light coolness. Breathe in hot heavy; breathe out cool light.
In a standing position- look and kneel down with your hands scooping up the hot heavy, breathe it in and bring your hands into your stomach, your chest, and turn upward to the sky lifting your hands up, exhaling light coolness into the air and letting go.
Kneel down and scoop up the hot heavy, breathe it in pressing your hands onto your stomach, moving up your chest and looking up, lifting your hands to the sky and breathing out light coolness.
Kneel down, scooping up the hot heavy, breathe it into your stomach and chest and lift it up to the sky, breathing out light coolnness. Continue scooping up the hot heavy, breathing it in, release it to the sky in light coolness.
(Continue scooping) breathe in the hot heavy, release it to the sky breathing out light coolness. [ten reps]
Main Meditation (10 Breaths per section)
~ Presence ~
Scooping up hot heavy unconsciousness, breathe into the stomach and the chest, lift up towards the sky and breathe out cool light presence. You are here, now.
Scoop up hot heavy unconsciousness, breathe into the stomach and chest, lift up towards the sky and breathe out your presence. Here. Now. Conscious.
Breathe in heavy unconsciousness, waking up into the stomach and chest, lift up towards the sky and breathe out consciousness- Here. Now. [Ten reps]
~ Recognition ~
Scooping up blindness, breathe into the stomach and chest, lift up towards the sky and breathe out recognition. Clarity, seeing.
Scoop up hot heavy blindness, breathe into the stomach through the chest, lift up towards the sky and breathe out cool light seeing; recognition.
Breathe in blind to your suffering, blind to your situation, through the stomach up to the sky and exhale sight, seeing, recognition.
Breathe in with your eyes closed, blind, into the stomach through the chest, up to the sky exhaling opening your eyes, seeing- recognition. [Ten reps]
~ Acceptance ~
Scoop up resistance with your hands, breathing into the stomach through the chest, lift up to the sky and exhale acceptance.
Lift up resistance and rejection with your hands, into your stomach and chest, lift up to the sky and exhale letting go. Accepting. Now.
Scooping up hot heavy resistance with your hands, breathing into your core through your chest up to the sky and exhaling Complete. Total. Acceptance.
Lift up rejection, aversion into your core stomach, through your chest to the sky and breathe out cool light acceptance. Accepting yourself. Accepting what you feel. Accepting. Now. [Ten reps]
~ Dedication ~
Scooping up hot heavy addiction in your hands breathe into your core, lift up through your chest to the sky and exhale cool light dedication.
Lift up hot heavy laziness, boredom into your core, breathing in, lift up to the sky and exhale cool light dedication. Consistency.
Scooping up addiction in your hands, breathe into your core, lift up to the sky and exhale consistency, rhythm, heartbeat.
Scoop up failure and boredom, breathe into your stomach through the chest, lift up to the sky and exhale dedicated, repetition. [Ten breaths]
~ Playfulness ~
Scooping up stressful hard work into your hands, breathe into your core gut, lift up into the sky and exhale playfulness. Dancing! ~Moving~
Scooping up meticulous serious work into your hands, breathe through the stomach to the sky and exhale creative playful movement.
Scooping up heavy hot labor, breathe into your stomach through the chest, lift up to the sky and exhale rejoicing ~¡weirdness!~
Scoop up strict stressful work, breathe into your stomach lifting up through the chest, hold up to the sky and exhale dancing playfulness, moving your arms and shaking around. Rejoice in the absurd. [Ten breaths]
~ Gratitude ~
Scoop up hot heavy disappointment, breathe into your stomach and lift up to the sky, exhaling light cool gratitude.
Scooping up disappointment, breathe into your gut and lift up through the chest to the sky, exhaling bittersweet gratitude.
Scooping up bland boredom, breathe into your stomach and chest, lifting up to the sky and exhaling relaxed gratitude.
Scoop up flat disappointment, breathe through your core lifting up to the sky, and exhale relaxation. Taste gratitude. Taste the present.
On the last inhale of disappointment, slow down breathing into your stomach, through your chest. Lift your hands to the sky, very slowly exhaling deep gratitude and expansive inner peace.
Your presence is infinite.
Ending Meditation Speech
Bring your hands to your stomach, relax your stomach. Notice any tension and feel it, relax and let go. Roll your shoulders gently, breathe in any tension and restlessness, and exhale letting go. Surrender. Surrender to your fundamental experience. Surrender to the present moment.If you can’t let go, allow the tension, allow the restlessness. Allow your frustration and any energy or thoughts to pass through you.
Thoughts come through as buzzing bees and float away as clouds.
Emotions rise as waves, dissipating as ripples on the ocean. Surrender to the present moment.
[30-60 seconds of silence]
In brief moments of silence, beneath all noise and restless suffering, there is Presence. Your presence; complete inner peace.
You have transmuted unconsiousness into presence, blindness into recognition, rejection into acceptance, addiction into dedication, work into play, and disappointment into gratitude.
Close your eyes. Kneel down holding your hands in prayer, or on your chest. We now thank the present moment for the gift of this meditation. Repeat the words: Thank you for everything; I have no complaints about anything.
[Silent pause ~30 seconds]
Breathe in, and out. Slowly rise, open your eyes, and return to life as a warrior of transmutation, and inner peace.